A World Health Organization (WHO) team probing into the origins of coronavirus is planning to scrap a provisional report on its recent mission to China amid increasing tensions between Beijing and Washington over the investigation and an appeal from one international group of scientists for a new probe, Wall Street Journal has reported.
In an open letter, a group of two dozen scientists has called for an international inquiry. They have stated that the WHO team, which had last month completed a mission to Wuhan for the origin of coronavirus had “insufficient access to adequately investigate possible sources of the new coronavirus, including whether it slipped from a laboratory”.
This comes after a team of WHO experts, which had launched a probe into the origin of the COVID-19 in Wuhan, had said that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulation in any animal species in China.
Peter Ben Embarek, the head of the WHO mission in Wuhan, during a press conference, stated four hypotheses on how the virus spread but reiterated that “laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population”.
“It has not been possible to pinpoint any animal species as a potential reservoir for this disease, and they indicate that currently and also back in 2019 it does not look like there was the circulation of the virus in any animal species in the country,” he said.
He further said that “four main hypotheses or groups of hypotheses” have been identified on how the COVID-19 virus might have introduced among humans.
The WHO expert said, “Our initial findings suggest that introduction through an intermediary host species is the most likely passway and one that will require more studies and more specific targeted research … The findings suggest that a laboratory incident hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus into the human population.”
Speaking on the virus got leaked from Wuhan’s institute of virology, Embarek said, “We also looked at Wuhan’s institute of virology … the laboratory and the state of the laboratory, and it was very unlikely that anything could escape from such a place. We also know that lab incidents are, of course, extremely rare.”